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The Economic Development of Manchuria: The Rise of a Frontier Economy

  • Alexander Eckstein (a1), Kang Chao (a2) and John Chang (a3)


The paper we are presenting here is in essence an interim research report, a summary and preliminary analysis of findings based on a larger study still under way. Thus both the findings and the interpretations are subject to revision as we continue and complete our investigation.



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We wish to acknowledge the invaluable research assistance of K. S. Liao and Nick Lardy in compiling Tables 1 and 2 and Appendix Tables I to III respectively. We would also like to thank the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council and the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies for their support, without which this study could not have been undertaken.

1 Fairbank, J. K., Reischauer, E. O. and Craig, A., East Asia: The Modern Transformation (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 173.

2 This brief discussion of the sinicization of the Manchurian frontier is largely based on the study by Lee, Robert H. G., The Manchurian Frontier in Ch'ing History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970). See especially pp. 2023.

3 Sun, K. C., The Economic Development of Manchuria in the First Half of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 11.

4 Robert Lee, Frontier, p. 103.

5 See Dallin, David J., The Rise of Russia in Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949) and Chou, S. H., “Railway Development and Economic Growth in Manchuria,” The China Quarterly, 45 (January-March 1971), Table III, p. 63.

6 Bank of Chosen: The Economic History of Manchuria, Seoul, 1920, pp. 204205.

7 Ibid., pp. 17, 213; see also Shabad, Theodore, China's Changing Map (New York: Praeger, 1972), p. 246.

8 S. H. Chou, “Railway,” p. 63.

9 Bank of Chosen: The Economic History of Manchuria, pp. 204–205.

10 SMR: Mantetsu chosa geppo (Monthly Surveys), Dairen, November 1932, p. 19 and SMR: Manshu sangyo tokei (Manchurian Industrial Statistics), Dairen, 1931, p. 7.

11 For a detailed discussion of population data and the population census see our Appendix A available on request ana the monograph by Wynne, Waller, The Population of Manchuria, Bureau of the Census, International Population Reports P-90, No. 7, Washington, D.C., 1958.

12 Based on Appendix A.

13 Based on Perkin's data in Table A.5, p. 212 and Table B.14, p. 236. The landman ratios for China Proper were 0.56 in 1873 and 0.44 in 1933, as compared to about 1.0 acres for Manchuria.

14 Watldns, Melville H., “A Staple Theory of Growth,” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, XXIX (May 1963).

15 These annual crop data are presented in Appendix C of our larger study. These in turn are based on the following three sources: Manshu kaihatsu yonjunenshi (The History of Forty Years Development in Manchuria) (Tokyo: Manshikai, 1964); Tung-pei nien-chien, 1931 (The Yearbook of the Northeast, 1931) (Mukden: Tungpei Culture Press, 1932); Manshu nosan tokei (Agricultural Statistics of Manchuria), SMR, Dairen, 1943.

16 The Kuantung Territory situated on the tip of the eastern Liaoning Peninsula was leased by Japan from China when the Russo-Japanese war ended. It encompasses an area of 3,462 square kilometers. At the same time the Japanese acquired the right to administer the lands on both sides of the south Manchurian Railway, a total area of 298 square kilometers.

17 Based on Kuznets, Simon, Economic Growth of Nations: Total Output and Production Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), Table 4, pp. 3840.

18 There are detailed GNP estimates for China only for 1933. There are more skeletal estimates for 1931–36, but none for a longer time span. Therefore no firm quantitative statements are possible, but all of the qualitative evidence would speak against a sustained rise in per capita product between 1920 and 1940.

19 See Simon Kuznets, Economic Growth of Nations, Table 12, p. 104 with sectors I and S adjusted to our definitions, i.e., transport and communication transferred from I to S.

20 Based on foreign trade data in Appendix Table I and our GDP estimates.

21 The Manchurian.estimates are based on Table 6.of this paper. Those for China are from Liu, T. C. and Yeh, K. C., The Economy of the Chinese Mainland, ‘National Income and Economic Development, 1933–1959 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), Tables 8 and 51.

22 The agricultural product estimates by Liu and Yeh for 1952 are based on certain assumptions which yield a definite downward bias.

23 Rates for China based on Liu and Yeh, Economy, Table 71 and on Chao Kang's: Capital Formation in China, 1952–1965, manuscript to be published by the University of California Press, Table 10; rates for Manchuria are from Appendix P of our larger study.

24 Based on a comparison of our total GDP and sectoral estimates for 1941 (in 1934 prices) with those for China in 1952 (in 1933 prices) as derived by us from Liu and Yeh, Economy, Table 8.

The Economic Development of Manchuria: The Rise of a Frontier Economy

  • Alexander Eckstein (a1), Kang Chao (a2) and John Chang (a3)


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